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What is OCD?

OCD stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is a mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

Obsessive thoughts are unwelcome thoughts, urges, images or worries that repeatedly appear in your mind. They can make you feel uncomfortable and even cause some feelings of anxiety.

Compulsive behaviours are actions that you do to reduce the anxiety/discomfort caused by the obsessive thoughts. It could be something like repeatedly checking that the door is locked or repeating a specific phrase in your head.

People living with OCD may find that it is manageable, however some people living with OCD find their lives affected by these obsessions and compulsions. They may be more severe under pressure/stress and become more difficult to manage.

It is more than likely that we will all experience obsessions and compulsions at some point in life, but that doesn't mean we're suffering from OCD. Living with OCD will likely mean that these obsessions and compulsions have quite a big impact on daily life.

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding OCD, with a common mistake being that OCD is simply being extremely tidy or clean. Some people may even joke about being 'a little OCD' but this can be frustrating and upsetting for someone living with OCD to hear.

So how can we support people living with OCD?

Firstly, we can reduce the stigma

That means being more open to conversations about OCD and realising that OCD isn't something to be said as a joke or a light-hearted comment.

Listen to the right people

Just like any other mental health condition, OCD can be difficult to talk about. It can seriously affect people's lives and relationships so it can be quite an emotional subject. If someone does open up to you about their OCD, listen carefully to their experience and try to understand their feelings. Their fears/anxieties may not seem big to you but they're very real for them, so be patient and don't judge.

Commit to learning more

There's lots of resources online about OCD. The NHS website has a section explaining what OCD is and the possible treatments, whilst MIND UK has a section on OCD and how you can support someone living with OCD.


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